YMCA Europe used the Festival as a very good occasion to invite friends and partners from all over the world to a very stylish and friendly birth day party at the Palace of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague. Here we see President Ed Egging and Annie, Secretary General Juan Simoes Iglesias and Isabella welcoming friends to the reception yesterday afternoon.
YMCA Europe celebrates their 40th anniversary and Ed gave a very well prepared speech where he highlighted the hospitality in the city of Prague, the excellent partnerships with many partners around and outside of Europe and also included some very warm and friendly comments on the closer and improved relationship with the World Alliance of YMCAs.
Ken and I responded to these very friendly words by giving birthday speeches to YMCA Europe and thanking them for opening up the Festival widely for the Change Agents and all the initiatives of the World Alliance. After that Secretary Juan Simoes gave an interesting perspective on Europe just now and presented the three birthday kids, who celebrated their birthdays on the same day!
Below Ed and Juan are politely enjoying the silver plate, which was a gift from us in the World Alliance.
YMCA of the USA shares good birthday greetings from Chief Operating Officer, Kent Johnston. Ken has just come to Prague from Geneva, where he and his wife visited the headquarters of the World Alliance.
Here below we see Kent Meyer, CEO of YMCA of the Rockies, the host for World Council next year. He was invited to greet the Change Agents on the last and final morning of their training week in Prague.
Below Kerry Reilly, the chair of the Festival Committee, opens the day for the Agents by sharing her leadership philosophy, based on the biblical story of Mary and Martha. She confessed that she would have to be seen as a follower of Martha, which one can observe when one see all the achievements on the Festival SIte this week, but she underlined that there is also room for the Marys of this world!
I am trying to come below the photos with my comments, but I find it difficult, so we remain still on the top of the photos, and my comment therefore will need to be read before you enjoy the photo below, which happens to be the last plenary session of the Change Agents in their splendid tent on the Festival Site.
I realize just now that if I write a comment here, related to the photo above, I have already done the trick, and I will be on the right side of the photo 🙂 So here you see from the right Jose, Romulo and Ida. Good friends!
Storytelling in the tent from eloquent speakers among the Change Agents,
all the stories related to Youth Empowerment and collected by the participants on the Festival Site.
And here some good energizing from ICeland!
The final group photo of 220 Change Agents. We have worked ourselves through a full week together from Monday and we have had an extremely solid experience. Lots of questions in the beginning, confusion and frustration, all the sound of change! But day by day we have listened to one another and come deeper and deeper into the Youth Empowerment strategy. The core of the strategy is Youth Empowerment, and around this centre is a wheel of Empowerment, beginning with the component called Waking the Sleeping Giant, then the Change Model (Space, Transformation, Impact), then the World Challenge, the World Council 2014, The One Million Voices Research, the Four Strategic Youth Empowerment pillars, Youth and Jobs, Youth and Health, Youth and Civic Engagement and lastly Youth and the Environment plus the Working Group on the same theme, and finally the Digital Youth Platform. (You will find explanations to most of these themes in earlier blog posts.)
For all Festival participants a very dear memory, the Prague Tram number 17.
And on this final day it started to rain again. Heavily.
And it rained and it rained, and before we knew it, the thunderstorm was over us for the third time, and we were all evacuated for the third time to the dining hall.
People tried to protect themselves against rain as best as they could and hurried away to find the dining hall.
And below you can even see how entrepreneurial vendors brought their food wagons into the dining hall and started to sell refreshment to the evacuee.
I realize that I have come on the wrong end of the photos again, how does it happen?
That is why I quickly have to underline that the evacuation was short, and as soon as the storm had left us and the rain stopped, the programme could start again, and this time it was again time for the Stop Poverty Campaign, here introduced by one of the Change Agents.
Stop Poverty General Fredrik Glad-Gjernes appeals to the crowd to join the campaign.
In the YMCA we are always very close to cutting edge technology, like George Williams was close to the steam engine and often used steam trains. In our age we use photo drones if we really want a close up from above of a Festival Crowd. The Stop Poverty Campaign stops at no limit to get the message through, and the campaign therefore has had quite a break through at the Festival. Well done, folks!
Even more engaging than photo drones are the young people on stage, leading the Crowd in attractive rhythms, dancing and singing and jumping up and down.
And here the tree where lightening struck and forced us again to evacuate the area. Nobody got hurt, but it is spooky to have those forces so close by, Noisy is it also. Just now, while I am writing this, it is raining cats and dogs and we are still preparing for a smashing final evening show. The Change Agents will sing and dance on stage and an involuntary shower is a small bill to pay for such amazing entertainment.
God bless the Festival and YMCA Europe, Stop Poverty and Change Agents, and please keep the thunderstorms away. It is a great Festival.
A GREAT FESTIVAL, YMCA EUROPE 🙂 🙂 🙂